This 21 year old  shining star from the women’s hockey team, Rani Rampal will be competing at the Rio Olympics this year. Rani became the youngest player in Indian hockey history when she represented the national team in the 2010 World Cup at the tender age of 15. Born on 4 december 1994, in Shahabad Haryana, Rani belongs to a place where females are not allowed to go out for fun and games let alone Rio yet manages to produce the maximum number of hockey players in India.

 

Rani Rampal, member of Indian Women Hockey Team during camp at NIS in Patiala, April 01 2014. Express photo by Kshitij Mohan
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Breaking all that was lagging her, be it societal restrictions, lack of money, nutrition and opportunity, there she is shining bright and representing the nation in Rio Olympics. Rani’s life and her dreams were never easy. Overcoming them was the only way out for her. Considered too weak to play the sport, she had to convince Dronacharya Award-winning coach Baldev Singh to give her an opportunity at the age of six – because the academy only took children aged eight and above. She did this by running a few laps around the pitch. Baldev was impressed with her fickleness.

“I was 2 minutes late for the 5 AM training session . I reached at 05:02. So he fined me Rs 200. But my father would not even earn Rs 200 after a whole day’s hard work, so where am I supposed to get the Rs 200 from? I argued at home for it and they gave me Rs 100 and said ‘this is all we have” , Rani says.

 

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I can never forget the value of those 100 rupees, that Baldev Sir gave me after hearing about my family condition. He said, “I will either make you an Indian player or you will leave hockey”.Years later making her coach’s word true Rani broke the record for India’s youngest ever hockey player. She smashed four goals in the tournament all also received the best young player award. A year later, she was part of the world XI selected by the International Hockey Federation.

“I didn’t know that playing hockey could change lives or get you a job . It was just a passion. That passion became a dedication – seeing the family struggle would push you harder, so that I could make their lives better, Rani added.

 

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Not ending it here she has already made 141 appearances for the Indian hockey team till date,  scoring  79 goals in these matches. Some of these went a long way in sealing the women’s team’s place at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Rani truely is an inspiration for everyone. Wishing her all the success in this Rio and more in her life. Way to go Champ.

 

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